Sunday, August 2, 2009

Prisoners of War

They were the flower of their generation, the best basketball players born in the Balkans during 1967 and '68, that biennial of worldwide unrest. "We were our own Dream Team," says one of them, a long-limbed, sloe-eyed center named Vlade Divac. They first mustered in 1984 as 16- and 17-year-olds, and for four years they stayed together, laughing and sweating as they learned the price of victory and never failed to pony up. It would not be a stretch to say that three of them have since become stars, if not All-Stars, in the NBA: Divac, with the Los Angeles Lakers; Kukoc, with the Chicago Bulls; and Radja, with the Boston Celtics. A fourth, a guard named Sasha Djordjevic, who plays in the Italian League, was European Player of the Year in 1994 with Recoaro Milano, while a fifth, Teo Alibegovic, stars at forward for Germany's Alba Berlin, one of the best club teams on the Continent.

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